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24,0                                      FLORA INDICA.                    \_Nymphaace&.
Several authors have asserted that Nymph(eace& form an exception to the rule that
water-plants are widely diffused, a statement we cannot confirm, for a detailed study of
the Asiatic varieties assures us that they afford a remarkable confirmation of that rule.
The species, however, are exceedingly variable, exhibiting that tendency to sport
which so many thalamiflorous polypetalous plants do; and this circumstance, together
with that of there being few badly preserved specimens in Herbaria, sufficiently
accounts for the prevalent but most erroneous impression that the genus contains
many species, and that these arc confined to narrow areas. Of the amount of vari-
ation to which they are subject, few botanists appear to have any idea; but we have
been accustomed in India to sec the same species assume several varieties in one tank,
differing in leaf and flower, size, colour, number of petals, stamens, and stigmata,
and we much doubt if there be more than four decidedly distinct species within the
limits of our Flora.
Upwards of sixty species have been recorded by Lehmanu, in his recent enumera-
tion (* Uebcr lie Gattung Nymphcca'), of which eleven are said to be Indian, the
latter estimate being quite at variance with our experience. Planchou again cur-
tails the genus to thirty-eight species, including eight or ten doubtful ones, and nine
Indian, of which four are doubtful. This also exceeds our estimate, and evidently
Planchon's too, for that author indicates with great judgment a considerable number
of the described forms as being possibly varieties, but these he is not able to reduce
for want of materials. We are perfectly aware that, in reducing almost nil the
Indian species, except N. atfta and N.pygm&a, to the well-known N. Lotus and
stellata> we are exposing ourselves to a most severe criticism on the part of both
botanical authors and horticulturists; we must, however, in accordance with our
principles, do so, admitting, at the same time, that we shall bo only too glad to
revise our opinion when botanists with equal means of judging shall point out some
structural peculiarities that may afford tangible characters whereby to discriminate
them. We catrnot, in the meantime, withhold the result of our very long and
detailed study of the species in a wild, cultivated, and dried state, nor hesitate to
impress upon botanists the obvious bearings of the facts,葉hat all authors who have
written on this genus are at variance with one another,葉hat it is impossible to
distinguish their species in a dried state,葉hat the characters hitherto published as
specific are thosu of individuals, and not of species,葉hat all water-plants are vari-
able, arid have wide ranges,葉hat all polypetalous flowers with a gradual transition
from aepajs to stamens are notoriously variable,預nd that, though no single author
has grouped all those species under two which we now have, there is not one of
the species we have so reduced that has not been referred to Lotus or stellate by
some author of note, excepting the most recent species of Lehmann and ISdgaworth,
and these we have ourselves fortunately examined in the living state. Lastly; we
are (glad to b.e able to give the authority of J. Smith, whose botanical knowledge
andexperiexrcfc in the BoyaJ Gardens at Kew entitle his opinion to the greatest re-
spect, for sayijng that all the species we have referred to N. Lotus and N. stellata
present no specific characters whatever under cultivation, the differences amongst
them being all of degree and inponstflpt throughout. Except, indeed, considerable
allowance bo made for variation in..tfc'e species of this genus, there are no limits to
them, for/twelve Imve been mahout of the European N, alba alone, excluding the
Indian N. Gachewiriana, whiclp'$fr''the same plant, as is probably the N. odorata*
of tforth America also.
1. N*atba (LrSp. Tilt 729); foliis cordatis integemrais, floribus
albis, sepalis obtusis tenoiter nervosis* antheris muticis, stigmatis radiis
* Professor Henslow, who has both plants in cultivation in the same pond, fails
to find any characters whereby to distinguish them. De Candolle says it is often
confounded with 2V. alba, but certainly distinct; he gives no distinctive characters,
however*